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Ukraine Recognizes Ultranationalists as Freedom Fighters

© Sputnik / Pyotr Zadorozhnyi / Go to the mediabankVeterans of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN-UPA) at the monument to Stepan Bandera during the Heroes Festival in Lviv.
Veterans of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN-UPA) at the monument to Stepan Bandera during the Heroes Festival in Lviv. - Sputnik International
The Ukrainian parliament passed a bill recognizing notorious ultranationalist groups, including those active in Ukraine during and after World War II, as fighters for the country's independence in the 20th century.

More than 270 out of 450 members of the Verkhovna Rada voted in favor of the bill. No one voted against it.

Monument to OUN leader Stepan Bandera unveiled in Ternopil, Ukraine - Sputnik International
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The new law calls anyone who fought for Ukraine's independence from November 1917 until August 24, 1991, as part of formal, informal, underground, military or guerilla groups, a freedom fighter. These people are entitled to social benefits under the new law.

Organizations covered by the controversial legislation include the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).

These so-called freedom fighters, in reality radical right-wing groups or revolutionary ultranationalists, have a dark past. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army is a vivid example.

The UPA was established as the armed wing of the Ukrainian nationalists in 1942. The UPA operated mainly in western Ukraine, fighting against Soviet forces on the side of Nazi Germany. In 1943, the UPA massacred as many as 100,000 Polish civilians in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia.

After the end of World War II, the UPA continued to fight against the Soviet Union using radical means, including terrorism and violence. The UPA committed countless atrocities, targeting intellectuals and local authorities.

War veterans and politicians have sharply criticized the glorification of the UPA and its leaders, Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych, accusing them of collaborating with the Nazis.

In November 2014, Russia's Supreme Court branded the Ukrainian Insurgent Army a terrorist organization, banning its activity in the country.

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